2018

Strange machines from the north

Introduction

"Thousands of machines, an area twice the size of Germany and people from all over the world"

On the 1 of December 2017 a new deposit scheme began in NSW, Australia. It's a very large operation with a lot of people and organizations involved. TOMRA had many key roles to play to get this working. We released myTOMRA at the launch of the deposit scheme. When I arrived in Australia the system had been live for 3 months. I had several research tasks, but I will focus on: "User research after initial release of myTOMRA"

Enterprise UX Design

Case study: User research after initial release of myTOMRA

Case

myTOMRA was built with a mindset of growing together with its users. We started out with three key features: Find closest machine, login at the machine and payout digitally. Three months have passed, it was time for our first evaluation.

We had already planned for UX Research every 3 months to keep up with both short term changes and to plan changes with big impact over the long term. For the prep meeting we gather information from all stakeholders, discussed and aligned business goals with hypotheses we had about user behavior and planned features.

From the preliminary research we found unexpected behaviors. We had reached our volume goal but not the amount of users. There was a high bounce rate on our signup page. We could compare the number of users at the machines, how many of those use our app and basic user behavior.

We decided on 2 main subjects that would set us on a path forward, both long and short term.

    Subjects

  • Find biggest obstacles for users to complete the core loop. (identify, recycle, reward)
  • Understand opportunities for myTOMRA

    Selected hypotheses:

  • Users do not get enough information before signup and find it to be too long.
  • People do not see the scanner used to login and dont make the connection to the app.
  • Large parts of the volume come from Professionals & Collectors and they can't use the app because of business rules.

Preliminary research

Getting a sense of direction

In the preliminary research I found patterns of usage in different areas in Sydney. Some areas had extreme volumes and a machine usage of 99%. Meaning people were putting items in the machine 99% of the time it was open (Comparing to a country like Germany the average machine is 15-25% usage at a good day). The issue was that some areas only had 5-15% usage. We knew the issue was not population, the lack of items or broken machines.

The "Extremes" also varied greatly in myTOMRA users. Some of the locations with the highest volumes and incredibly low amount of myTOMRA users. It was a pattern that High volume + Low myTOMRA use = Low income area. There were some discrepancies but not enough to ignore. It was important to note that the system was new, and the people have yet to create a habit of recycling.

To get more direction when I plan the research, I create subtasks. These are two among others, but I found them to be interesting.

Why the large difference in usage between sites?

I had to figure out why people within an area with 2 extremes (Low and High in the same area) would choose the same location. I would focus questioning towards choice of location and knowledge of other locations. It was an opportunity for us to increase or at least even out the usage in one area and promote myTOMRAs Location feature.

How can we increase the number of users?

My best bet to find clues on how we can get more users was to visit high volume sites with low myTOMRA use. I planned observations and guerrilla interviewing & user testing with a goal to verify or disprove our initial hypotheses and our initial personas.
We created personas based on usage profiles from the app and from personas based on experienced markets. (Simplified information)

Professional

  • High volume
  • 2/day
  • Cash
  • All day

Collector

  • High volume
  • 2/week
  • myTOMRA
  • Early / Late

Family

  • Medium
  • 2/Month
  • Cash
  • Late

Solo

  • Low
  • 4/week
  • myTOMRA
  • All day

Conclusion

I planned observations and guerrilla interviewing & user testing with a goal to verify or disprove our initial hypotheses and our initial personas.

    Two of the subtasks I created to focus the research:
  • Why the large difference in usage between sites?
  • How can we increase the number of users?
Research

Finding the highs and lows

Recyclers in Australia during User research @ beginning of NSW bottle scheme We spent 2 weeks on observations and guerrilla interviews & User testing. We interviewed hundreds, user tests on half and many hours of observations. User tests was short and often focused on one feature at a time; create account, identify at the machine or how to find another machine in the area.

During the first days we visited several of the high-volume sites and noticed the lines before the machine was open. People were queueing from 4am to 8am when the machines open. The reasoning differed a bit between the people: "Before work", "Able collect more over the day" and "Nothing else to do".

Users printed login barcode from the app In the mornings it was mostly Professionals and Collectors. Later on more Family. The personas were accurate but Families would often fit in to the Collectors persona. Solo was a rare appearance at all our locations.

Low volume sites had obvious reasons for lower volume. Things we noticed were, low visibility from the road, nieche stores close by and our signage disapeared with all the other signage. Most users at low volume sites had myTOMRA and thought it was an obvious choice. Family persona was more frequent and had a environment focus perspective with their kids.


Conclusion

    High volume sites had constant queueing (99% usage) and people would sometimes plan their day around being able to recycle.

  • Dominated by Professionals and Collectors.
  • High number of people needs the money directly.
  • Queues are often blocked by Professionals who recycle 12+ bags at a time.
    Low volume sites had significantly more myTOMRA users and were often located on less obvious places.
  • Dominated Family and Collectors. Noticeably higher amount of Solo, but still lower than anticipated.
  • myTOMRA users were more focused on environment issues and not supporting "big corps".
  • Parents took their time with the kids to teach them about recycling.

Synthesize

Different pieces of the puzzle

We spent time after each session discussing the research and categorized the findings in to groupings of . Each day we noticed trends and would filter what we should put effort on and improving questions that had resulted in poor data.

Looking at the quantitative data from the office told us one story and spending a few days at different locations told us another. Putting the two stories together helped us find more clues on how to continue the development.

    Selection of findings:

    Find biggest obstacles for users to complete the core loop. (identify, recycle, reward)

  1. Once they learned about the location they were at, they didn't bother to look for another. The common reason for being there was word of mouth and visibility from the road.
    "There is one at my local shop?! I heard about this one and thought I'd try it, I just kept doing it."

  2. Due to the vast number of items each person carried, it would often look like 2 different users to our system. They were often able to max out a session in the number of items and the machine would register it as two different sessions.

  3. ...

  4. Very low attendance by younger people at all sights. Reports about inner city of Sydney show a much higher attendance.
Selection of findings:

Understand opportunities for myTOMRA

  1. The information about myTOMRA was at the machine, people did not feel like they had the time once they were at the machine. After queueing for a long time and feeling like they would hold up the line by downloading the app.
    "I saw something about the app! Seems amazing, I just forget about it when I'm done recycling"

  2. ...

  3. People who need money directly felt there was an uncertainty or risk to use the app.
    "I don't know what happens when I send the money to my account. They may disappear!"

  4. ...

  5. Users who have problems or don't want to use a smartphone find it useful to combine the browser version on their computer to check the status and only use app to login at the machine.
    "I don't like smartphones, my fingers don't work on them. I printed the barcode to a keychain and check my numbers on the computer!"

Updating personas from new information

Professional

  • High volume
  • 2/day
  • Cash
  • All day

Collector

  • High volume
  • 2/week
  • myTOMRA
  • Early / Late

Family

  • High
  • 3/Week
  • Cash
  • Early / Late

Solo(?)

  • Low
  • ?/week
  • myTOMRA
  • All day

Result

Let's make it happen!

We managed to spread the usage over the districts by new marketing strategies and planning future locations based on research. We tripled the amount of myTOMRA users over the year and continue to grow.

Find biggest obstacles for users to complete the core loop. (identify, recycle, reward)

    The biggest obstacles were not with the app itself, but rather with the system as a whole. The lack of information caused clusters, which created queues and that caused a stressful situation at the point where the information about myTOMRA was located. Some of the actions that was taken:

  • Reduced initial time spent of signup by not requiring to add a payout method before recycling.
  • NSW Government and TOMRA increased the information around each location with low participation.
  • Bars and restaurants were informed to contact closest location to receive a bulk pickup instead of using the machines.

Understand opportunities for myTOMRA

    We created new features that was expected but now we had a real understanding of the problems we were solving.

  • A new digital receipt that works exactly like a regular payment from the machine but in the app (previously it was only digital transfer to a PayPal account.)
  • Added a feature to enable users to add a ❤ favorite location.
  • Clicking on each location in the map would show if it's open, almost full, full or closed.
New favorite location & location status and digital voucher

The research was used by developers, designers, and stakeholders to improve upon myTOMRAs efficiency and usability. The research was also used by technicians, location planners and management.

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Strange machines from the north

UX Analyst UX Researcher

When Australia started their deposit system together with TOMRA I was on the ground to research how well the system performed. I was tasked to observe and interview end users, test our internal systems with our brand new employees and how we could improve the roll out of machines on the other side of the world.

Jarl

Bonus

I've for a long time had a personal goal to create my own game. Jarl is both the characters name and the name of the game.

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